Ruby Mazur

Ruby Mazur


"She's Like A Rainbow" 

Artist Ruby Mazur

40x40 

Oil Painting 

This Original oil Painting is Retailed $75,000
 

 

Ruby Mazur is always painting. Even when he’s sleeping – and he retires for just brief three-hour stretches from 9pm to midnight – he’s creating. “To me, painting is like breathing,” he says. “I’ll lay down and close my eyes, but I’m still painting because I’m thinking about what I want to change on a canvas. My mind just doesn’t shut off like it does for most people.” After waking (if you can call it that), Mazur puts on some coffee, and he’s at his easel working, surrounded by his two beloved Mastiffs, Ziggy and Zenny.He might stay there for the next 16 or 17 hours – however long it takes. His only breaks come when he walks his dogs outside his home in Maui, and then he returns to his element at the easel.

 

Describing his methods, Mazur recalls a story he once heard about Picasso: “Somebody asked him, ‘How long does it take to become a great artist?’ Picasso thought about it for a moment, and then he said, ‘I got it – two lifetimes.’ And it’s so true. I guess that’s why I try to cram so much into each day.”

These days, much of what Mazur paints is based around his second love – music – which should come as no surprise given the fact that he created over 3,000 album covers for musicians back in the ‘60s and ‘70s. And, of course, he reserved his own place in rock history by designing the iconic “Mouth and Tongue” artwork for the Rolling Stones’ 1971 single, “Tumbling Dice” – the striking logo has been associated with the band ever since. “Music is more than a sound; it’s a feeling,” Mazur says. “And that’s what I want people to come away with by what I do. I want them to hear and feel the energy of the music through my colors and brush strokes.”

 

Mazur recounts the time he met with Carlos Santana backstage and presented the legendary guitarist with a spectacularly vivid painting he had made of him. The artwork captured Santana in mid-performance glory – eyes clenched dramatically, his face seized in cosmic ecstasy as he coaxes sounds both searing and sensual from the fretboard of his guitar. “Carlos took one look at it and said, ‘I can hear the note I’m playing,’” Mazur says. “What a compliment that was. It was exactly what I tried to accomplish.”

 

Born in Brooklyn and raised on Long Island, Mazur knew he was an artist at the age of five. “I just had the gift,” he says. “My dad showed me how to draw a glass, and when I did it he said, ‘That’s perfect.’ In no time, the young artist had amassed a collection of crayon drawings, which he sold for $50 each. “Not bad for a little kid,” he laughs. From there, Mazur progressed to drawing comic strips and eventually took to painting – sometimes on a grand scale. One night his parents, who ran the popular Long Island nightclub called My House, came home from work to discover that their 13-year-old son had covered the living room walls with oil paint to resemble a starry night scene. “My sister thought they were going to kill me,” Mazur recalls, “but they loved it. After that, I was in another zone.”

 

Music also loomed large for Mazur, and thanks to his parents he had the opportunity to witness dozens of performers. While studying art at Philadelphia College, he would drive back to Long Island on weekends with his brother (who was attending dental school at the Philadelphia University of Pennsylvania) to catch the latest acts at My House. “It was so cool to be this 19-year-old hippie and your dad owns the hottest club on Long Island,” Mazur says. “One day, my father said, ‘Look, you guys know this rock ‘n’ roll stuff. Why don’t you audition the bands and see who should play here?’ So that’s what we did.”

One of the local bands they began booking was called the Hassles, whom they soon managed, as well. After the group’s keyboard player overdosed, the brothers held auditions for a replacement, and one of the candidates was a short, decidedly non-rock ‘n’ roll-looking guy who called himself Billy Joel. “We didn’t think he would fit in at all,” Mazur remembers, “but he sat down at a Hammond B3 and he was just amazing. We said, ‘OK, you’re in. We’ll teach you how to move and be like the rest of the band.”

Mazur and his brother guided the Hassles through the New York club circuit and saw them issue a couple of minor hit records. By this time, Mazur was itching to get his art career off the ground. He left Philadelphia College and moved back to New York, where a friend tipped him off about a job opening at the newly started Paramount Records. “I totally bluffed my way through the interview,” Mazur says. “I met with the president, Bill Gallagher, and he asked for some samples of my work. I said I didn’t have any. Then he asked me what position I was looking for, and I said, ‘I want to be the art director for your album covers.’”

Gallagher could have tossed Mazur right then and there, but when the young hotshot explained how he would bring a fresh new take to album art (“Everything they were doing was old and looked boring”), the record president was won over. “I got hired right on the spot,” Mazur says. “I said, ‘Give me $50,000 a year, a secretary, two assistants and an expense account, and I’ll give you kick-ass album covers.’ Gallagher said, ‘Come in on Monday at nine. You’ve got the job.’” 

Only problem was, Mazur didn’t really know what he was doing. He laughs. “I walked out of the interview and said to myself, ‘OK, now what?’ I didn’t even know the dimensions of an album cover.”

 

After attending to such specifics, he hit the ground running, and in his first year on the job was nominated for a Best Album Cover Grammy for the band Crowfoot. Before long, Mazur was fielding requests from other artists to design their packaging (“You name it, they called me – the MC5, Tommy James. It was crazy”), and while he attempted to balance freelance work with the steady pace at Paramount, he ultimately decided to leave the label andstrike out on his own. Ironically, his last job at Paramount was to create the album cover for Billy Joel’s debut, Cold Spring Harbor.

The start of the 1970s was a heady time for Mazur. He opened his own studio in New York City, and with a staff of 10 assistants he turned out an average of 15 album covers a week – to the tune of $5,000 each. “That was amazing money back then,” he says. Noting the explosion of talent emanating from the West Coast, he packed up and headed to Los Angeles, opening an even bigger studio on Sunset Boulevard, which enabled him to double his monthly output. 

Elton John, Steely Dan, Dave Mason, Jim Croce, the James Gang and B.B. King are just some of the artists Mazur designed eye-catching and trendsetting artwork for. There were movie soundtracks – Love StoryWilly Wonka and the Chocolate Factory, the Rocky Horror Picture Show and hundreds more. And, of course, there was the famous request from none other than Mick Jagger. “He wanted me to come up with something for the ‘Tumbling Dice’ record sleeve,” says Mazur. “The idea was that it would look him, but it wouldn’t really look like him. It was as simple as that. I came up with the mouth and the tongue. It wasn’t too hard for everybody to figure out who it was.”

 

After a brief stint at ABC-Dunhill Records (during which time he received the Art Directors Award for the Illustration West Competition for his cover design for Curtis Mayfield’s His Early Years with the Impressions), Mazur relocated to the UK and opened a studio, where he continued working on album packages. However, an industry vinyl shortage put a stop to the flow of releases, and by the time he moved back to the States, Mazur had become disillusioned with the business. It was time for a real change.

“What used to be so fun and adventurous when I started out was now a formula, and I wasn’t into formula,” he says. “And when CDs came into the picture, it just seemed like album art didn’t matter at all. Plus, I was just plain tired of working for other people and trying to feed a machine. I decided I wanted to please myself, so I poured all of my energy into painting. It’s what I’ve been doing ever since, and I couldn’t be happier with that decision.”

 

Mazur devotes much of his time celebrating the music and musicians he loves with vivid, stunning portraits that seem to articulate – and indeed, magnify – the very essence of each subject. Each painting comes magically alive with his magnificent attention to detail and nuance, and all of it is made even more incredible by one astonishing fact: The artist is colorblind.

 

“It’s true,” Mazur admits. “In fact, I have to read the print on the tubes of paint to see which color I’m using. I use oil and acrylic to get both density and richness, and I mix them by feel. It’s always something when people say, ‘Oh, my God. Your colors are amazing,’ because they’re not seeing them like I do. But that’s a special kind of joy for me to create something from nothing and see such excitement on people’s faces. That never gets old.”

His work has been displayed around the world, and these days Mazur features his paintings at the Holle Fine Art Gallery in Hawaii, and on the mainland he’s represented in Las Vegas at the Wyland Gallery in Planet Hollywood and at Signature Gallery in the Venetian. He’s even moved into the groundbreaking, 21st Century world of NFTs (non-fungible tokens), with his first-in-series auction going for a record-setting $1.1 million.

“This is a really exciting development for me,” says Mazur. “With NFTs, because of the encrypting and digitalizing, it’s like the painting actually comes alive. It’s animated and it’s got movement. It's taking art a thousand leap years ahead.I’m incredibly grateful to be a part of such a mind-blowing new world. And there’s more to comeLLP

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